Politics and faith have clashed even more strongly during this election year in the United States. People on both sides of the political spectrum are angry with the way things are, and are lashing out verbally, with their votes, and sometimes with violence. It’s easy to find Christians with specific political views denouncing other believers with different political views in the most un-Christian of terms on social media and in other formats.
The “issues” run the gamut:
- Support or non-support of Israel
- LGBT/gender/sexuality issues
- Poverty and jobs vs. corporate “greed” and freedom
- Racism (or at least perceived racism)
- The place of Christianity in society
And there are many more.
Much of the response of many Christians comes from a place of fear; fear that our ability as Christians to practice our faith will be curtailed, fear that a certain government policy or official will make a ruling that goes against our Christian faith, fear that our standing as Christians in society will become further marginalized, fear that our beliefs will not be supported by those in power, fear that world views other that what we hold as believers will gain broader acceptance.
Perhaps those fears are well founded, in the sense that the Christian characteristics of our country, as we have experienced them in the past, are changing. But in one sense, so what? Fear never comes from God. Change by itself is not bad; it may be good. When we feel ourselves shrink back in fear, it’s time to remember Paul’s words; “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) God’s truth is truth, and His kingdom will prevail whether our society is friendly or hostile to it.
Jesus never responded with fear. But He never responded with violence either. He saw beneath and behind people’s social or political beliefs to their true motivations, and He called them to allegiance to a kingdom not of this world. (John 18:36) Social issues are not unimportant, but they are not the most important. Among His disciples He included Matthew – a tax collector collaborating with the Romans, and Simon – a Zealot who would gladly have stabbed Matthew in the back if he caught him alone before they both came to know Jesus.
Politics are not unimportant. Poverty and abortion and LGBT issues and racism and prayer in schools are not unimportant. Slavery and Roman oppression and women’s rights were not unimportant in Jesus’ day. God can, does, and will call different ones of us to make a difference in the world in these and other ways.
But these political and social issues are not the main point. Let’s remember that our first calling is to be part of the kingdom of God. Our calling makes a difference in what we do in society, but that is secondary.
3 Things to Remember
I would suggest these three things as truly important to remember as we contemplate how God would have us relate to the political and societal unrest in our culture today and in the coming months.
- Government is not your savior. When it comes to your personal and family life, how you practice your faith, or the success you achieve or don’t achieve in life, it matters very little who or what party is in power. Government can’t solve the most important issues we face including health, happiness, and meaning in life. What matters much more is your own actions, thoughts, and character. Don’t wait for the government to solve your problems, or blame them for how you live your life. Determine to live out your faith regardless of what the government does or doesn’t do.
- God can move His kingdom forward regardless of who is in power. The oppressive Romans provided a world system – such as language and transportation – that allowed the spread of the gospel even in the face of persecution. Throughout church history God’s kingdom has progressed regardless of whether culture viewed believers as model citizens or traitors. Opposition and outright persecution often fueled the flames of faith. God is not limited by popular votes or government regulations or anything else in society. Yes, it’s preferable for the righteous to be in power. But God’s kingdom will stand regardless of who wins the election.
- You, personally, have a mission from God. You do what God has called you to do regardless of what others think, or how easy or hard government makes it. Your calling may be to address a certain social issue, or it may not be. Stay true to what He has called you to do. Don’t get upset when others don’t agree with you, or are focused on something different. If He has called you to raise your children, do that. If He asks you to run for public office, do that. If He needs you to open a business or rescue human trafficking victims or help people learn how to manage their finances or lead others in worship or minister to the sick – do it with your whole heart, regardless of what those around you may think or do.
Is our world falling apart? Yes. And it will end soon, though we don’t know exactly when.
Should we worry about it? No. Jesus said, “Look up! Your redemption is near!” (See Luke 21:28)
And until then, keep doing what He has given you to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Act when He tells you to act, but not in fear. He’s got everything under control.
Your Turn: How do you see the connection between politics and faith? How clear are you on what God has called you to do, regardless of what society thinks? Leave a comment below.
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- You keep doing what God has given YOU to do, regardless of society or politics. No fear here! Tweet that.
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